Merchantmen on the Seven Seas

“A Bit of Canada Beating South"

The First of a Series of Four Sketches of Canada’s Merchant Marine

NORMAN REILLY RAINE August 15 1922
Merchantmen on the Seven Seas

“A Bit of Canada Beating South"

The First of a Series of Four Sketches of Canada’s Merchant Marine

NORMAN REILLY RAINE August 15 1922

“A Bit of Canada Beating South"

Merchantmen on the Seven Seas

NORMAN REILLY RAINE

The First of a Series of Four Sketches of Canada’s Merchant Marine

THE fog rolls in, damp, grey, thickening with each passing minute. The siren blares into the murk. Even though expected, it makes one jump. The sea swishes against the sides, recoils into circling foam and disappears.

The Old Man is peppery. “Damn this!” he mutters savagely. He paces the bridge incessantly with his Watch Officer at the telegraph.

The bosun, passing aft, sticks his head in at my door. The moisture runs from his glistening sou’wester, and drips from his red moustache.

He too is disgusted.

“Chere up, Bosun!. . .it can’t last forever!”

Half speed! A crawl, it seems! It is now impossible to make out the sea alongside. A bit chilly, too, although the month is August. A dull morning altogether.

The afternoon brings with it a salt breeze that sweeps away the fog in shreds. What a difference! In place of that deadening grey wall, an expanse of ship-dotted ocean leaping in the full sunlight. There still is a haze on the horizon—but astern, not ahead. Faces smile. Whistling sounds along the deck. Our two kittens spar and tumble on the bunker hatch.

Nine knots and a fraction. The ship settles down to it again. The engines throb, smoothly, powerfully.

■ The chief engineer is standing amidship. He has just come from the engine room for he wipes the grease from his palms with a bit of waste as he breathes the clear air.

His nose wrinkles sagaciously. “Good weather ahead, boys,” he predicts. Good old sport, the Chief. He crosses the deck and pauses to light a cigarette. “Ever been to Australia or New Zealand?” he asks.

I confess inexperience. He is expansive.

“No more have I!” he tells me, “—and been at sea for nigh twenty years, at that. All over the Near East.. Middle East. Far East. . Russia, the Bosphorus, .the Mediterranean.. almost any place you could name. . excepting Australasia and the South Seas. Great coun' tries, I hear!”

He settles on the bench and smokes.

At dusk, after a splendid sunset, a form sidles up. A diffident voice;

“Purser... ! Purser... !”

I look Up. It is a French-Canadian deck boy. His first voyage. He is addicted to dime novels and cigarettes.

“Well, Major.... ?”

“Purser, .you know dat dam’ black feller what work down inda cellar. . . ?”

This requires thought. Oh, yes! The Cingalese donkeyman in the engine room.

“Das right, sir! Well, what I ask you. . will de Capitain make anyt’ing me ef I hit dat black feller? She al’ time call me Johnny Crappo!”

“Mustn’t fight, Major.. .er, that is.. . the coal bunkers are well out of sight, and...”

“A’right, sir! I understan’Purser! T’ank you.. .. ”

He goes off, happy to waylay the black feller in the bunkers.

Bound for Gotham

TT IS now dark. The moon has not yet appeared. The single mast sways in small circles against the stars. The night is perfect. Astern, Montreal and the Grand Banks. Ahead, New York, Panama, New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania and the South Seas.. and this 8,300 ton freight carrier of the Canadian Government Merchant Marine taking Canada’s name and products to the far parts of the Empire.

The sweeping arc of sky, the gentle swell of old ocean, long thoughts of our country’s golden past and radiant future. . . .Onward Canadians! What a night!

Shouting firemen at the ash-hoist. The scrape of the steel bins across the deck. A cloud of dust.. and myself, choking, sputtering, gasping. . the Chief’s voice bellowing at his men.. !

“You-! -! Don’t you know wind’ard from

loo’ard yet!”

He turns to where I stand, shaking my powdered

clothes and digging ashes and small clinkers from the nooks in my countenance.

“.. .. this is too bad, Mr. Raine, really! They couldn’t have seen you there in the gloom.. . . ”

But his eyes hold a wee twinkle nevertheless. Well, I was about to turn in anyway!

Unfamiliar New York

NEW YORK. . . .but before we reach it, a magnificent sea picture comes before us. . the S. S. Olympic, racing up on the quarter, her decks crowded with waving passengers and the tall hull tinged with the pink of late afternoon.... a splendid exhibition of speed, power and

beauty, knifing ahead, a huge black bulk against the setting sun.

Later, the lights of Coney Island dancing across the dark waters. Half speed again. The pilot is coming and as we hang over the rail on the fo’castle head watching him climb aboard, three great porpoises, vivid green in the light of the gangway cluster, dart like torpedoes along the ship’s side.

Slowly we steam up the Ambrose Channel to our anchorage off Staten Island. The mate and Chips are on the fo’castle head. The lights of the city. Black, swirling water. A cry from the bridge! A sullen roar, powdered rust, the smell of hot steel and the splash of the hook. New York!

Early next morning, word for all hands is passed along the decks. Queer toilets emerge, particularly from the firemen’s fo’castle where live an Egyptian, a Hindu, an Arabian and a Cingalese. They dot the deck with spots of color. The Health Officer and the Customs are aboard so we fall in, in single file, for examination and passports. The Health Officer, a brisk little man with a valiant moustache, a diminutive cap and dressed in the uniform of the United States Army, calls off the names of the ship’s company. Each man gets swift scrutiny but it all seems perfunctory. All correct? All correct! He departs with surprising speed.

Up hook again. The propeller turns lazily with fussy tugs all about. Like a portly tourist in charge of excitable cicerones we steam up river to the great oil docks at Bayonne there to load case oil for Australasia.

In. the slip beside us is a tanker from Shanghai. A few sheds away winches clatter on the deck of a Brazilian. At the end of the pier a Norwegian, spick with new paint, is working cargo, her booms lifting ceaselessly. Making downstream is a dingy “Limie” tramp ship, laden to the Plimsoll, rust flaking from her unpainted sides. The old red ensign flutters from her staff, a spot of brightness in the fresh breeze. Sea-birds wheel and cry in the brilliant morning and dip into the river for fragments of food. The smell of the sea quickens the blood like wine. A splendid new ship of the United States Shipping Board, manned by a skeleton crew, is steaming up river. Shortly, she is followed by scores of her sisters all bound for that dreaded port of a deep-sea ship.... the boneyard!

Loading begins to-morrow. The red flag whips at the yard-end.

Queer Neighbors

OUR neighbor is a queer fish. The Chinese, I mean.

Bright streamers fluttered from her ports soon after we had docked. They continued to wave at intervals. Now, from her fo’castle, come strange cries and much popping of crackers. Joss scent drifts to us from across the slip. More cries. A hiccoughing chant. The rattle of thin sticks. A peculiar, elusive breath of the Orient, a bit sickly perhaps but interesting. Fire-crackers again, until far into the night.

“Must be a holiday,” I remark to the mate.

“No,.. not that. They’re driving out the effluvia of us foreign devils alongside.. ” then, as an after thought— “Nasty lot of dog’s bellies!” he adds piously. The mate hates “niggers, greasers and chinks” as he carelessly dubs them, more as a matter of faith than because of anything they have done to him. It is a trait common with seafarers. And he is past master of profanity wherewith to express his dislike.

A month of New York, shifting from wharf to wharf. Now we are laden and coaled. One last night ashore. A last visit to the “Follies” of one sort and another. We are to proceed to sea at six o’clock to-morrow morning, nor are we sorry. .There is a long stretch before us and all hands seem impatient to be gone.

At sea once more. The crew was roused out at fivethirty o’clock. The rain which preceded the sunrise has disappeared. In its stead comes a stiff breeze, straight from the ocean. It sets the rippling waters to coquetting with the sun. There is a tang in the air that puts one « lungs to work. The boilers are blowing off in a cloud of white steam, as though they too feel the exhilaration of

the day. The sky is a light, dear blue. The wind is pulling the clouds to shreds.

The mate is forward with the men of his watch. Chips is standing by. The seamen hang over the rail after a tug has taken us in charge. They view passing shipping with critical and appraising eyes.

What variety of craft! Deep-water ships and their more timid sisters, the coasters.' Slender-sparred sailing craft, of which, unfortunately, none too many survive. Dusty old colliers from Newport News. Destroyers, snaking upstream—and here, with the sun on her gleaming brass and spotless paintwork, the liner “City of Cawnpore,” swinging at her anchorage off' Quarantine. A few coolies at work about her decks call forth visions of the swarming, chattering multitudes of the Middle East —blazing colors—white sunlight—tiger-haunted jungle —windy hills and lonely outposts of the Frontier—and the mud and squalor of the bathing ghats on the yellow Ganges.

The breeze is .freshening. Looking astern, the perforated cliffs that are New York seem almost chimerical. The city winks to the morning with a million flashing eyes.

A tall ship from the colorful ports of the Mediterranean surges past Quarantine to greet the Statue. It is a day of golden hope for the crowded decks. So fair a morning and so fine a view! What soul could be downcast?

Steadily the shores glide by..green banks that are turning brown and russet under the baking sun. white ribbons of highways, .the flutter of signal station pennants. waving groups on the decks of Sound steamers. .

A glow of red and yellow at the stern of a barkentine proclaims that Spain is on the high seas. A seaman sits on the fo’castle head taking his breakfast from a bright blue mug. White teeth gleam as he turns to view us. Gold rings jingle from his ears. A scarlet, head-cloth binds his dark hair. A friendly wave of the thin loaf clutched in one brown hand. A wanderer from the lightsoaked crags of the Pyrenees, perhaps, or the olive-clad slopes of the Montes de Toledo, lain sleeping under the sun since the bloody days of the Peninsular wars, yet might he have learned his courtliness in the cobbled alleys of Valentia or old Madrid!

Beating South

XX/’HAT matter? Onward we go! The swing of the v v open sea. A halt to drop the pilot. His farewell wave and ‘Pleasant voyage!’’ coming faint over the water. Chips, on the fo’castle head, noisily adjusting stopper tackle to the anchor chains. A shower of spray as our adventurer buries her nose in the blue of a Western Ocean comber. A little bit of Canada beating for the South!

A run of over forty days ahead. The ship is deep in the Water. Forward and after well-decks are heaped with coal to the level of the waist. We have seventeen hundred ton aboard to carry us to New Zealand. In addition there are, below hatches, about fifteen hundred ton of general Canadian merchandise and one hundred and thirty-five thousand cases of oil, benzine, motor and aviation spirit. The for ard deck carries hundreds of drums of calcium carbide and two casks of pitch. A fiery cargo —and the equator to cross.

The second engineer is lugubrious.

“Nothing to it!” he declares, with a wave of his fat hand. “Out in mid-Pacific, seas coming over, generating gas from the carbide, a highly inflammable cargo, coal in the bunkers and on deck catching fire !” His gaze travels over the side. Sadness lies in his watery blue eyes. Cheerful beggar!

The day passes swiftly into a warm, star-hung n/ght. Coal fills our customary sitting place abaft the deck house and the skipper had commandeered the lower bridge deck, so w'e betake ourselves—those few of us who have

not to go on watch, to the seclusion of the fo’castle head and spend the hours in contemplation of the phosphorescent glory that is scorned by plunging bows.

Sea and sky are a marvel of velvet blue. There is no sound about us save the step of the lookout, the periodic chiming of the ship’s bell and the sough of water alongside. The moon appears and floods us with virgin light. Over all the ship it gleams, and we sit, drinking in the splendor of it, the Chief’s cigarette glowing like a jewel and the thin smoke melting into the warm air. What a dream of a summer night.... clean quiet. . in pure and flawless beauty and the vague, fascinating smell of the land, pregnant with growing things.

Irresistibly my thoughts drift to a night such as this of a few years ago. I was sitting on the balcony of my hotel room in a town of the Italian Riviera. The Mediterranean gleamed through the palms, .there was a breath of Africa in the gentle breeze, and from some obscure corner of the old town came the strains of a violin infinitely sad, it was. and infinitely sweet. “Coeur de mon coeur, gui j' adore. ...” it sobbed, that plaintive little love-song of the Mad Master. I sat enthralled. It has lived in my mind as the Silver Night—and now, here is a night to match, with the ceaseless benison of the ocean in place of that long-dead music.

I seem to chronicle an unbroken stream of splendid days and faultless nights, but such the gods have sent and who could wish it otherwise?

Some Impressions

/"\UT of a jumble of contradictory first experiences come several clean-cut impressions. Characters and peculiarities of my shipmates take form. There is a dropping of the effort to present the best side to the stranger. A writer and newspaperman comes in constant contact with a wide and everchanging range of human-kind and I often have amused myself by observing the length of duration of that demi-formal wall. I have at times, and when my profession was known to my companion, detected positive uneasiness, as though he feared subtly serious intent behind the slightest question; as if he thought that, while he spoke, I was weighing his words, rejecting this, making mental note of that, with the intention of marketing his views for the delectation of the public. Great politicians and widely known men are so coy in this respect. With the ordinary man, suspicion subsides with time. Daily intercourse is its greatest foe.

Example, the Chief. During my first days aboard it was but rarely that he vouchsafed an observation. His replies to my advances were monosyllables. Silent, reserved, his rather dull face browned and lined with years of sea wandering, he looked a man who kept his counsel. One day I chanced to remark on the transientness of past empires and their relation to those of to-day. The spark kindled. In a few scintillant phrases he sketched the rise and fall of ancient powers, traced the causes of their decadence and applied the results to world politics of to-day. His premises, comparisons and conclusions were faultless. His phraseology was like opal ore—outwardly rough, but brilliantly sparkling with a latent fire.

He was a deep and clever thinker, with a knack of telling phrases, and a well of absorbing anecdote.

P r ejudices, he had, but always they could be quenched by cold reasoning, for he was a stickler for " logic and himself an accomplished logician. His dis-

courses were accompanied by a series of violent and sometimes ludicrous facial contortions due to nervous trouble over which he had no control. So powerful was his personality during speech, however, that this peculiarity passed almost unnoticed and totally disregarded.

The days noticeably are growing warmer. The Gulf Stream has us in its embrace and presents us with all manner of shore flotsam. We had a visitor this morning. A flapping bundle of feathers, crimson and black, a long yellow beak, crane-like legs and wild squawks. Tired from his long flight from land he had not strength sufficient to escape again and was barely able to summon the energy to remove a piece of skin from my finger when I attempted to feed him.

We are meeting many ships now, for we are running down the trade track to the West Indies and Central America. The Old Man appeared on deck this morning in a pair of rubber boots, blue trousers, an undershirt and a battered canvas hat and set to work, painting the name of the ship on boat-boards. He makes a queer figure.

Sea and sky are unbelievably blue, and the former is jeweled with flying-fish. Palm fronds and gulf weed drift past continuously and our rigging is populated with yellow birds. On to Panama!

Shipboard Customs

IV/f AC stretches his long bones, lights a cigarette and settles deep in his deck-chair with a grunt of content. The steward’s tray, with its empty tea-cups and bits of broken biscuit, lies on the deck between us. My volume of Dampier slips from my fingers. The ship radiates with tropical heat. The blue of the sea is a rolling dream. The bows dip and sway with a caressing motion, scarce perceptible. Tiny land birds, yellow and scarlet and royal blue, dart about the rigging and gladden the air with song. Overside is the constant leap and scutter of flying-fish. Porpoises carry out their manoeuvers in squads of fours, leaping in unison like advancing cavalry. The rhythmic throb of the propeller is a deep undertone. A sailor whistles at his work. Lassitude claims us.

The second mate, Cameron, paces the bridge. His white uniform is vivid against the blue sky. The bosun betakes his bowlegged way about the ship with a keen eye for loose gear. There is a faint, cheerful tap-tapping of chipping hammers from the after end.

I look aft. In the waist, hard by the galley door, the steward stands in earnest converse with French Louis, the cook. Something humorous is on the go, for Louis lends a sedulous ear, the while a widening grin separates his swarthy features. Hard luck! Before the story culminates there is a violent hissing from the galley and Louis jumps to his deserted pots. Louis’ laugh is as wide and generous as his nature and it is characteristic of him that he always has something savory stowed away to employ the jaws Of the boy apprentices. He has a Gallic sharpness of tongue, though, as they discover who enter his domain uninvited.

Daily ship-board customs form unnoticed. Subconsciously we find ourselves following a vague routine which gradually becomes more definite—visiting the Chief— chatting between watches with the junior engineers— swapping yarns with the bosun—interviewing “Sparks” in his retreat on the boat deck. It is only through the casual omission of some part of the daily program that one realizes how strong a grip minor things have upon one in the course of a long voyage.

A Gentleman Ranker

VX/-HILE on my way to share the genial hospitality of ’ * Baxendale one evening I became aware of what was, perhaps, the most unique character on the ship. I was mounting the ladder when I heard behind me a strange, high-pitched Oxford voice. The owner was cursing vigorously and picturesquely an obdurate ash bucket. In the

dusk I could not see detail, but as he straightened and gazed out to sea, a slim-waisted, broad-shouldered silhouette against the saffron sky, I gained an idea of his type.

The face was in profile. A thin, aquiline nose, firm lips and jutting chin betokened strength and character to an uncommon degree. As he turned to the light of the gangway bulb I saw that his face was marred in places with the blue of gunpowder. He was a stoker, yet beneath the grime quality spoke.

His history—the history of a wastrel—I learned later, told in snatches between watches, lying under the awning of the after-deck, punctuated by the thud of green seas against the side, the wash of the screw and the piping cries of seabirds against the wind-washed, sky. He spoke quietly, in the manner of a gentleman, without emphasis, yet with evident relish and peculiarly child-like pride in the more lurid passages. He bore on his body full confirmation of his story in the way of bullet wounds, cuts and

Eldest son of an honored English family, he early broke all decent bounds, ruined the life of a splendid girl and made his mother’s life a round of trembling days. After his native land became too hot for him he became a remittance man and an outcast and wandered to obscure and erotic corners of the earth. After many vicissitudes he turned up in Zululand. Here, for awhile, his restless nature was held by the excitement of aiding and fomenting native wars. He retired from Zululand a few yards ahead of a swiftly hurled assegai. After acting the scapegrace in other parts of Africa, he at length drifted into a corps of African Mounted Police. With this body he regained some of his former status and served with honor for over twenty years. Because of his intimate knowledge of native life and character he frequently was employed on secret and dangerous police missions through the bush. His tales of this part in his career will some day form a

Then the Great War! German East Africa heard the crack of his rifle. So did the Belgian Congo and German West. He was wounded several times, was invalided out, rejoined and was offered a commission. This he was on the point of acquiring when a.bitof particularly scoundrelly work during a native orgy swept away the good record of years and he was reduced to the ranks. Again he was wounded, was invalided out for good and resumed his wanderings. Marseilles, Port Said, Montevideo, Rome, Cairo, Venice, Hong-Kong, Alexandria, Bombay and even ancient Babylon heard the echo of his.step—and it seldom was a steady one. He participated in a dozen shady games, in one of which—smuggling opium from Karatchi to Montreal—he was again badly hurt. I believe that this coup was responsible for the powder marks on his face, although no hint of this passed his thin lips.

Finally, hard fortune laying him by the heels on the beach at Genoa, and facing a choice of jail or work he shipped aboard this vessel as fireman and has remained with her since. For the rest, he is free with fist, tongue and money, worships brandy, asks no favors and is an inveterate idler.

Even as I write I look aft to where he is standing, off watch, holding forth in his flawless way to a group of amused and admiring firemen—tall, well-knit figure against a ventilator, wide shoulders held with easy grace, skin deep-bronzed by years of the African sun, thinning iron-grey hair parted scrupulously in the centre. Even teeth flash in his lean, almost ascetic face, the fine, insolent eyes are hooded and lines of dissipation groove' him from nose to chin. Surmounting his handsome skull is a scarlet fez. The fez—ridiculous— bizarre—is the key to the man. The f o’castle calls him Sir Percy. With this he is well content.

Carrying the Necessary

'THE conversation turned, last night, on the Canadian export stuff in the holds. We were gathered in the room of the third engineer, a sad-eyed youth whose morose manner belied a happy nature. There were present, Mac, a raw-boned Hie’landman who, during hours of duty, was the third mate and at other times a matchless raconteur; the navigator, who kept his silent corner and was hugely amused at the flying sallies; Sparks, the wireless wonder, with his funny-bone so near the surface that the smallest witticism sent him into ecstasies of thigh-slapping; the Chief, a valued contributor; the fourth engineer, with a penchant for oil, grime, hard work, a violin and the ladies; myself, and the phonograph, a prized possession bought in New York.

Two only, of those present, were Canadians, yet had the entire gathering been sons of the Maple Leaf the talk on Canada’s trade, opportunities and future could not have been more loyal or enthusiastic.

West Indian Vignettes

DAST the West Indies, now, and nearing Panama. To* day is a succession of lovely views that fade hourly. The sea is ultramarine. Great sky-ships in white

and tumbled beauty sail slowly across a turquoise arc. On either hand are long stretches of rolling land, green and golden in the sunlight, deep violet where shadowed by the clouds.

Unnamed keys, showing a few tufts of wind-blown palm, and each set in its bed of coral, ringed by dazzling sand and beaten by creaming surf, rise for our words of

praise and fade astern. Now and again a wee white house with roof of red tile comes into view, set in the dip of a snowy sand-dune. Kiddies in bright-colored rags play about the door and wave us distant greeting.

Later, a few tropical squalls. Sea and sky change to a deadly copper green. A curtain of cold mist blots out the sun. Then the downpour—sudden—thunderous—making the iron decks reverberate with its violence! A gust of wind, amazing in its strength! The mist clears. Far off to port, waterspouts careen across the sea like monsters arisen from the leaden deep. Sunshine again, and steaming decks.

After such a squall yesterday afternoon, I was standing

by the coal pile in the starboard waist, watching the lash of retreating rain on a distant reef. Hearing a peculiar racket, I turned and saw a long figure pitch like a shot rabbit from the top of the coal and fall in twisted, cursing agony into the alleyway. The man, a fireman, with muscles tied into knots, kicked spasmodically. His mouth foamed, and through his clenched teeth came stifled blasphemy. A bad attack of firemen’s cramps. Palliatives were given. Presently he relaxed, panting heavily, and declared himself fit to carry on. Assisted to his feet he dropped again in an attack more violent than before. He was carried into the fo’castle, his body rigid as a board. As his mates lifted him the man’s headgear fell at my feet. It was a battered, scarlet fez.

'THE ship is resplendent to-day. Paint-work scrubbed -*■ to pristine brightness and brass in holiday trim. Everything spotless. The Skipper paces the bridge, looking like a prairie parson in wide-awake hat and black pongee coat. He is a queer old dog.

Ahead, lie the tumbled peaks of Central America, deep purple in the background and garbed in swirling fog. Small streamers drift down the valleys from the higher ranges and for their temerity are caught by the sea breeze and swept to shreds. The clouds, capping the mountains, roll and wreathe like the smoke of forest fires. Two or three dark islands stand sentinel off shore and the stretch of farther coast is lost in amethyst mist. The foreground is bright with vari-hued vegetation. The matted jungle is murmurous with life.

A coal trimmer stands by, neglecting his shovel to gaze over the side. Recollections crowd upon him. He was familiar with these steaming shores in the golden days of gun-running, revolution and sudden death.

We lay in Limon Bay overnight. The sunset was a marvel of crimson and silver blue against which arose the delicate and romantic tracery of a full-rigged ship, anchored a few hundred yards away. Like a breath of Morgan’s days, it seemed, to see the graceful hull and tapering spars on a background of still lagoon, rustling jungle and lurid sky. It was but a slight step of the imagination to vision the swarthy henchmen of the famous buccaneer, in bright-colored head-cloths, gold rings swinging from their dirty ears and cutlasses with broad brass guards thrust through silken sashes, hacking their way through the matted growth to regain their ship after a bloody raid on an isthmus stronghold.

This morning, fish of every shape and hue tempt the angler but will not be caught. Wonderfully vivid are these tropic denizens of under-sea coral gardens—like swift-moving bars of colored light. •

The passage through the canal is impressive, both because of the gigantic nature of the cut and for the rank profusion of the country it bisects.

On each side is the dense green of the jungle wall. Great lianas bind the growth. Sweeping ferns rise from miasmatic depths. Exotic blooms, too vivid for healthy growth, gleam uncannily in the green light of tangled bayous. On the mud banks lie the sinister, motionless shapes of alligators, one half-hooded eye alert for prey. Snakes swim the watery ditch. Weaver-birds sway in the branches of tall trees. The air is laden with the foul smell of rotting vegetation. Everywhere is life—prolific, vibrant, watchful, uneasy. Parrots, white and yellow, green and red, gold and purple, rose and iridescent blue—flash screaming across the jungle, flecking it with sudden beauty. The heat is tremendous—oppressive. Frequent downpours intensify the humidity. The iron decks are steaming and shimmering by turns. Over all hangs an air of brooding —as though all were not well with this sweltering patch of nature. Fever is in the air—unmistakable—deadly.

The canal trip is fascinating, as danger is fascinating but, like danger, there is tremendous relief at being clear of it. We are not sorry to leave astern that unquiet scene and emerge into the sunlit waters and fresh salt winds of the Pacific.

Rapidly we pull away from the canal, out across the broad bay with itssurrounding hills—so like that stretch of Mediterranean coast between Monte Carlo and Mentone —and watch scarlet-tipped Flamenco and Tortilito dip into the burning sea. Just past San José Rock we meet a wee steamer crossing the Gulf to Panama City. It is crowded with people in bright dresses. They wave us “bon voyage” as we pass that last green island and head for the open ocean; out beyond Balboa, the last outpost of man’s great enterprise, and into the face of the leaguelong rollers of the Pacific, out into ocean vaatness South.